Stories about love never fail to resonate with people of all ages and races. That is why novelists and authors don’t run out of ideas about love and all things associated with it for their masterpieces. But stories about love that infuses common but often overlooked social issues? That’s somehow rare, especially for nations that strive to keep traditions intact.
Young television personality-slash-novelist, Kim Dyna, has produced yet another compelling piece that talks about Cambodia’s practice of arranged marriages. But Ms Dyna’s “18-Year Old Wife” is a story about an arranged union that seemed like a work of fate, too.
The author presents the story of an 18-year old girl, Kanika, and her husband, Vichet, who is 15 years her senior.
Kanika was forced to marry Vichet in a wedding arranged by her aunt. Knowing that she owed her aunt so much for raising her, Kanika didn’t have the choice to disagree and run away.
She pretended to be happy with the idea of marrying Vichet and showed her parents-in-law that she can be a good Khmer wife. But as soon as the wedding was over and the newly wed flew to France where they would live, Kanika threw all her resentments to Vichet.
Kanika, barely adapting to adulthood, believed she should be given a free life and not be forced to be in a marriage with an older man. She grew up detesting arranged marriages and being compelled into one was like breaking her own rules.
But Vichet loved Kanika. Despite her tantrums and immaturity, the 33-year old Vichet remained patient and loving. He treated Kanika with so much affection and care for he knew Kanika was just a child who needed understanding.
He continued to protect his wife, ignoring all her hostility. He accepted all her faults and forgave her every single time she showed her rebelliousness. It didn’t take long for Kanika to notice and recognise how loving and patient her husband was. Her once cold heart softened every time Vichet expressed his admiration. Kanika eventually found herself falling for the man she thought she wouldn’t learn to love.
But another character came into the picture just as when Kanika decided to show her appreciation to Vichet.
Rita, Vichet’s secretary, lived in the couple’s house after her home was destroyed by fire. Rita was in love with Vichet, and she was determined to break the couple apart.
But Kanika wasn’t the girl to easily back down, especially for love. Kanika and Rita competed for Vichet’s attention.
The issue on jealousy eventually spiraled into more complicated and bigger problems involving the families of Vichet, Kanika and Rita.
The 18-Year Old Wife is a love story entwined with many issues and circumstances common to the society and families. But Ms Dyna weaved the story in a way that would make the readers understand these issues more but still instilling the idea that true love transcends age differences.
For the story’s ultimate twist and ending, it’s for you to find out. The book won’t fail you..